In the Thirteenth article in “The Jacksonville Jaguars Draft History and Comments” series, we will continue to review a particular Jaguar draft class, until we have reviewed all 19 of their drafts. Today we will remember 2003. We have previously examined:
- The 1995 Expansion Draft
- The 1995 NFL Draft pt 1
- The 1995 NFL Draft pt 2
- The 1996 NFL Draft
- The 1997 NFL Draft
- The 1998 NFL Draft
- The 1999 NFL Draft
- The 2000 NFL Draft
- The 2001 NFL Draft pt 1
- The 2001 NFL Draft pt 2
- The 2002 NFL Draft pt 1
- The 2002 NFL Draft pt 2
The Jaguars remained depressingly consistent with a 6-10 record, their third losing record in a row. This earned the Jags the 8th pick in the 2003 Draft. This was the first draft without Tom Coughlin. . The Jags had 9 draft picks. I will go over each selection and say something concerning the player, if deserving. I will also bring up any missed opportunity where the Jags, with hindsight on my side, could have made a better selection. I will also bring up anything interesting related to the draft…Jaguar or not. As Huey Lewis once famously sang…”Gonna Go Back in Time…”
Round One/Pick #7 – Byron Leftwich, QB, Marshall – Oh…Where to begin. The Jags were interested in Leftwich. He was high on their board. But they figured he would be gone by the 8th pick. He should have been. The Vikings, who owned the 7th pick, had worked out a trade with the Ravens, who was ready to draft the “hometown boy” Leftwich. But something went wrong. One of the teams pulled out at the last minute. In the mad scramble to collect their bearings, the Vikings failed to recognise that time had ran out for their pick. The #8 drafting team could move to #7 and submit their pick, That’s what the Jaguars did and we selected Leftwich. The depressing thing is that nobody really coveted Leftwich but new Director of Player Personnel and head drafter Shack Harris. The more depressing part is that it has been widely speculated that the next player on the draft board for the Jags was DE Terrell Suggs, who the Ravens ended up taking with the 10th pick. It hurts just remembering it…moving on! Leftwich has his moments but he had a funky throwing motion that make him susceptible to fumbles and he always seemed to get hurt when things were looking up. After not drafting a QB for 4 years, the Jags had now taken one two years in a row. Overall, Leftwich was a disappointment. I personally always felt a lot of Leftwich’s issues were caused by his unwillingness to change his delivery. It had been lamented even before the draft but his talent was undeniable. I’m sure the Jags thought he would embrace coaching and his delivery would be fixed. It never was and Leftwich was said to be the reason because he was unwilling to change. This was a regrettable pick. Would I have picked different? - I think I have made it clear that I would have taken Terrell Suggs.
Further Info – This was a pretty stellar draft. 13 of the players selected in the first round went on to have Pro Bowl seasons. Four QBs were selected, including overall #1 pick Carson Palmer. Along with Leftwich, the others were Kyle Boller & Rex Grossman. With the Lion’s #2 selection of Charles Rogers, thus began the nightmare of them draft a WR in the first round THREE YEARS IN A ROW!!! Charles Rogers is a sad tale. He played a little his rookie year and flashed enough to build some excitement. Then he broke his clavicle during a drill and lost a year. He fought to comeback and in his first contact play had his other clavicle broke. Citing being worried about his mental state the Lions GM let Rogers go home and rehab. That was a HUGE mistake. Without supervision, Vicodin and marijuana was consumed without any boundaries. This led to multiple drug suspensions, lackadaisical play, and an early end to his career. He even was taken to court by the Lions demanding a portion of his signing bonus to be paid back…and the court agreed!! Sad, sad tale.
Round Two/Pick #39 – Rashean Mathis, CB, Bethune-Cookman - Outstanding pick. Definitely the best CB in Jaguar history, probably the best DB. During his tenure with the Jags, he had 30 INTs and 99 passes defended, both franchise records. If it weren’t for a string of injuries that cost Mathis 23 games over his last 6 years with the Jags, he might still be here. I wouldn’t be surprised after his career is done (he’s still playing with the Lions), he doesn’t sign a one day contract and retire as a Jag. He might be in the Ring of Honor one day also. Would I have picked different? - It’s tough, with both Anquan Boldin and Osi Umenyiora taken later in the draft, but I will stick with Mathis.
Further Info – No QBs were selected in the 2nd round. Another seven players picked went on to have a Pro Bowl season. Potential Hall of Fame CB Champ Bailey‘s little brother Boss was selected #34 by the Lions. There were many smaller college picks in the 2nd (Louisiana-Lafayette, Bethune-Cookman, Tuskegee, West Texas A&M, & Middle Tennessee State).
Round Three/Pick #72 – Vince Manuwai, OG, Hawaii - Another strong pick. Vince was a steady player who remained with the Jags until he was released in 2011. Was well respected in the league for many years and would probably still be playing if not for a devastating knee injury he suffered in 2008. The third round is the right place to take players like offensive guards so overall this was a very good pick. Would I have picked different? - Regrettably, yes. At pick #78, the Dolphins selected Wade Smith, a player who has played center, guard,m & tackle. He is still playing for the Texans and just recently in 2012 was voted to his first Pro Bowl.
Further Info – Two QBs were selected in the 3rd round. Three players taken would become Pro Bowlers. Two sons of famous fathers were selected late. QB Chris Sims is son of Phil Simms. RB Justin Fargas is son of “Starsky & Hutch” actor Antonio “Huggy-Bear” Fargas.
Round Four/Pick #104 – George Wrighster, TE, Oregon - Though this player ended up being a disappointment, at least it wasn’t from lack of trying. George just couldn’t stay healthy. In six years with the Jags, He missed 30 games. When healthy, he could be a game changer at times. I will give this pick a break. Would I have picked different? - Yes I would. #111 CB Terrence McGee (519 tackles, 17 INTs, & two All Pro selections) or I’d take #120 CB Asante Samuel (433 tackles, 51 INTs, four Pro Bowls, and two World Championships).
Round Four/Pick #132 – LaBrandon Toefield, RB, LSU - Another decent pick. Fred Taylor was earning his nickname “Fragile Fred” during this period and we needed to spell him if not prepare for the future. Toefield was a good, not great, back who did some decent running for the Jags. The issue was injuries didn’t happen as often as anticipated so he didn’t see the field much. He played backup for 5 years and had 7 TDs. Would I have picked different? - Easy choice. #138 to the Colts, DE Robert Mathis. The Jags just never have taken good DEs when they have had the chance.
Further Notes – Only one QB (#110 Seneca Wallace) was selected in the 4th round. Four future Pro Bowlers were picked in the 4th. Pass rushing legend Joe Klecko‘s son Dan was selected #117 by the Patriots. He unfortunately wasn’t as impactful as his father. The next pick after Wrighster was the infamous Onterrio Smith. Don know who he is? When he was drafted he immediately went and had SOD shaved into his hair…for “Steal of the Draft.” But I will always remember him for introducing me to the “Wizzinator”. For the uninformed, that is a artificial penis used to try and supercede potential urine drug tests. The worse part was he wasn’t caught with it at a testing site…No, he was caught at the airport. He also had dried urine with him. This was AFTER he had already failed two prior drug tests. Onterrio Smith…A piece of work!!!
Please return later today as I continue reviewing the Jaguars 2003 NFL Draft from the fifth round on.
See ya again in 2003!
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